MN National Guard to deploy in February


Cpl. William Parker of Redwood Falls, Minn., (right) and Spc. Brent Haataja of Menahga, Minn., both of Company B, 194th Combined Arms Battalion, Minnesota Army National Guard, pause before leading Iraqi Policemen to a checkpoint Feb. 15, 2007, in Anah, Iraq. Photo by Sgt. 1st Class Clinton Wood, 1/34 BCT PAO. Photo courtesy of the National Guard.

More than 1,000 members of the Minnesota Army National Guard are scheduled to deploy in February, the military announced today.

The 1,037 soldiers leaving are from the 34th Red Bull Infantry Division. The soldiers are headquartered in Rosemount, Faribault, Stillwater and Inver Grove Heights. The Guardsmen will be responsible for military operations involving 16,000-person multinational task force operating in the southern third of the country, covering about eight of Iraq's 18 provinces.

Guardsmen from Minnesota have been deployed before, but this assignment is the most significant that the Guard has been tasked with during the ongoing war in Iraq. The Minnesota Guard will function as a division headquarters for operations in the provinces south of Baghdad, west to Al Anbar province, and between the borders of Saudi Arabia and Iran.

The Guard will be in control of leadership, command, control, and staff analysis for the multinational task force. It will also work with the Iraqi Army, the Iraqi Police, and the Iraqi Department of Border Enforcement.

The bulk of these Guard members have not been previously deployed. Ninety-six of the Guard members are currently in college.

The deployment does not include the 2,600 soldiers of the 1st Brigade Combat Team, said Lt. Col. Kevin Olson. That unit served 22 months in Iraq -- the longest-serving unit in the current war.